Christie to Mexico on Trade Mission, 2016 Politics

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is heading to Mexico on Wednesday, officially on a trade mission for his state. But the trip also serves as schooling for Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate with a lot of swagger but little foreign policy experience.

So with his state exporting $2 billion worth of goods to Mexico, and tens of thousands of New Jersey jobs relying on the relationship, Christie becomes the latest potential presidential contender to cross the border on official business — and in pursuit of international expertise and credibility.

“If you’re a national leader of the party and you go abroad and you meet other foreign leaders, you learn,” Christie, who also is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, told reporters. “And that’ll make you a better leader whether you run for anything else or whether you just continue to try to be an influential governor in our country regarding the national debates that come up.”

Christie is just one of the Republicans trying to beef up his foreign policy credentials.

“It begins to help the American people understand, ‘Hey this person has the experience and the gravitas to be commander in chief,’” said Lanhee Chen, the top policy adviser to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Christie will be joined by New Jersey business leaders for the three-day trip, which features sit-downs with Pena Nieto and other officials, meals and meetings with Mexican business leaders and a sojourn to Puebla, where he’s scheduled to spend some time visiting a park and local school. There, he’ll have the opportunity to show off his greatest political asset: his ability to interact with people.

Christie will be trailed step-by-step by the news media. He has no plans to try to speak Spanish while there, and he’ll be traveling with a translator.

“I never have been really good at foreign languages. I tried in high school, I tried in college and just never had an aptitude for it,” Christie told reporters before departing. “I think the worst thing in the world is when politicians try to fake it. You know, they’ve got a few things written in a foreign language in front of them, they say it and they sound stupid and everybody knows they don’t really know what they’re talking about it. And I’m not going to do that.”